My Dear Parishioners,
Today we stay in the Old Testament with Ezekiel 2: 1-7, together with Psalm 123 and we are going to share some thoughts from both passages.
Like Jesus and the Apostle Paul, the Prophet Ezekiel experienced rejection from the people he was called to serve. Ezekiel’s prophecies cover the years from 593 - 571 B.C. during which time Judah was conquered by Babylon and the people sent into exile.
This passage for today, is taken from the commissioning of Ezekiel as a prophet. In a powerful vision, the Lord speaks to Ezekiel with images of clouds, fire, swirling wheels, and fantastical creatures. Throughout the book, Ezekiel is addressed as ‘mortal’ or literally ‘son of man’ to contrast his status in relation to the immortal God. As the Lord speaks to Ezekiel, he is filled with God’s spirit and is charged to go to the people of Israel who have rebelled against God, to warn them and to speak God’s truth.
Generally speaking, the Babylonian Exile was understood as punishment for the people’s betrayal of their covenant with the Lord God at Mount Sinai, and their worship of foreign false gods. This violation of the covenant ideal had brought disaster, as Jerusalem was laid to ruin and the people sent into exile.
As God’s representative therefore, Ezekiel is to go to these rebellious people and speak the Lord’s word to them. Whether they listen or not, (whether they will hear or forbear) they will know nonetheless, that god’s prophet is among them. Ezekiel is warned at the same time to expect rejection, from a stiff-necked people, but he is not to fear the people or be disheartened by their negative responses to him….”do not be afraid of their words, and do not be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house” (Ezek. 2:6).
So although Ezekiel experienced rejection, it is to be noted that he remained faithful to his commission from the Lord and foretold the eventual restoration of the house of Israel. Indeed, where many a man of God would have buckled under the heavy weight of rejection and derision, our admiration for this Prophet of the Exile is without parallel. He was with Israel at a very unfortunate time in its history - through thick and thin - and his loyalty to God and God’s people was unwavering.
Besides Jeremiah, only Ezekiel seems to have recognized and declared God’s anger against Judah, but Ezekiel worked in Babylon among the exiles there. His prophecies against Judah were harder in tone, and stronger in judgment than Jeremiah’s; but his purpose was to assure the exiles that they were the ones who would inherit God’s promises, and on whom the future of god’s rule among men depended. It is uncertain how much of Ezekiel’s message
was known to the people who actually lived in Judah.
As we look at Psalm 123 this morning, it should be noted that not all the psalms now in the Bible had been composed by the time of the Exile, but many individual Psalms were already known, and perhaps the first small collection had been made. Psalm 123 is a prayer for God’s mercy in the face of the contempt and scorn of others Just as servants look to their masters, for mercy and protection from abuse, so the Psalmist here looks “to the Lord our God, until he has mercy and compassion upon us.. This is a most fitting prayer with which to end our commentary for this day; it prepares us also for the conflicts of this week.
With all good wishes and prayers